A paperfolding paradise
The website of writer and paperfolding designer David Mitchell
This page attempts to record what is known about the origin and history of the origami design known as the Mushikago, which translates as 'Insect Basket'. The Mushikago is a variant of the Warterbomb. Please contact me if you know any of this information is incorrect or if you have any other important information that should be added. Thank you.
A version of this design appears in 'Origami (Part 1)' by Isao Honda, which was published in Japan in 1931.
In Western Europe / the USA
As far as I know a version of this design first appears as Le Lampion (the lantern) in the French children's magazine 'Mon Journal', probably in 1900, although I have not been able to identify the exact date of the article.
The introduction says, roughly, 'In France children happily amuse themselves making cages for flies by means of two 'rondelles de bouchon' (lit. plug washers but probably paper filters?) joined together by pins. In Japan, where the glow-worm is more common and more brilliant than it is here, the Japanese catch them and enclose them in the small paper lantern which I will describe to you, and thus have a lantern whose light is not very bright, but which is original and does not cost much. If you find glow-worms in your garden or the countryside you will make a lantern from very transparent paper ... but, if you can't find glow-worms you will simply make a four-legged vase, which will be very pretty with its shape absolutely reminiscent of Japanese perfume burners.'
A version of the Mushikago under the name 'Le Vase Japonais' appeared in Booklet 1 of 'Images a Plier', a series of 6 booklets published by Librairie Larousse in Paris in 1932. The closed box is turned into an open-topped vase by the simple expedient of cutting the centre of the top away.
The same cut version of the design appears, as 'Vaso japonÚs', in Booklet 3 of 'Figuras de Papel', a series of 3 booklets published by B Bauza in Barcelona in 1932.
The cut version also appears, as 'El Centro de Sobremesa' (Table or Desk Centre) in the extended version of 'El Mundo de Papel' by Dr Nemesio Montero, which was published by G Miranda in Edicions Infancia in Valladolid in 1951.